Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

This was my most memorable pandemic read, so far. 

Alma Whitaker is the central character in Elizabeth Gilbert's novel.  There is so much to say about Alma--she is a botanist, like her father, but looks so much like her mother.  In looking like her mother, her marriage prospects are slim and this is the 1800's--so that's important.  By 1830, Alma is 30 years old.  However Alma doesn't marry just to marry and also there are no eligible men for her.  Her sister, and childhood friend take the only two possible suitors. 

Prudence, her adopted sister and her friend Retty, get married and move away from White Acre, the family homestead in Philadelphia.  Alma ends up helping her father with his multi-million dollar (today's money) businesses, after her mom dies.  She does meet someone--Ambrose Pierce who ends up marrying Alma.  But alas, it's not quite the happily ever after she had hoped it would be.  Alma exonerates Ambrose to Tahiti (not a bad place to end up).  There he will cultivate a vanilla plantation that her father set up years ago. 

Alma is a self sufficient, brilliant scientific woman whom I admire, even though she is fictional.  This book had me captivated from very early on.

I turned to reading Elizabeth Gilbert at this time because of a Ted Conversation I heard her host called "It's OK to feel overwhelmed. Here's what to do next".  I highly recommend listening/watching this.   This was early into the Coronavirus stay at home orders.  When I heard her speak, I thought, she is an articulate and brilliant person.  Why haven't I read more of her books?  So I began my WFH journey with The Signature of All Things

Not so long ago, I read City of Girls and of course, a longer time ago I read Eat, Pray, Love and then Committed:  a love story, her follow up to EPL.   I might go back and reread Committed to relearn more about Ms. Gilbert.  Anyway Elizabeth Gilbert, like Alma, I admire and I would jump at an opportunity for her to be my mentor.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice is one of the best sociological studies about early nineteen century British loyalty and society I have ever read - where title, rank, fortune, and good looks are in many ways the requirements of an approved marriage, more so than love. In fact, this wonderful book might not be as relevant today as two hundred years ago, but there are still many traces of such societies throughout the world, today. It was not all that long ago in America, where marrying outside of your religion, or ethnicity, was looked down upon.

So much for the plot.  I think we are all familiar with it.  A classic, written in 1813.  An oldie, but goodie.  

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

Natalie, becomes the owner of the Lost and Found Bookshop after her mom passes away.  The bookshop is in trouble financially.  Trying to figure out a way out of the debt, Natalie discovers much about her past and her grandfather, Andrew, who raised her along with her mom. 

This book is like a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day.  It's comforting.  It reinforces why we have independent bookstores and just how important they are to our lives.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

It's surreal to read about the Count living in isolation in The Metropol Hotel, during our own isolation in the world because of COVID-19.  Of course, the Count's world is unlike anyone I know who is staying home, because we can't choose between restaurants for our meals.  Maybe we can choose between eating at the dining room table or eating in front of the television.

I did some research on the author to prepare for Monday Book Group and I found this wonderful presentation Mr. Towles did for the 2017 National Book Festival.  Here's the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej_eUJOoMwYhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej_eUJOoMwY.  Listening him talk about how he got the idea for the book and how he actually wrote the book made the book that much more interesting for me.

A Gentleman in Moscow has been very popular since it was published.  Towles' first book Rules of Civility I enjoyed so very much.

In his presentation, he discussed his next book.  A title was not released, however, I look forward to its publication.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Fresh Air by Charlotte Vale-Allen


 Fresh Air by [Vale-Allen, Charlotte]


This was a nice summer read for our group. And I might add, a fun book--not disturbing, enjoyable, light.

The book summary: A New York Times Bestselling Author Lucinda Hunter has been alone in the Connecticut farmhouse that was once her mother's. Her life has become a small thing. One July morning as she sits near the window, something in the garden catches her eye: a little girl in shorts and a t-shirt, her bare feet in outsize sneakers. Taken with the girl's sweet nature and generosity of spirit, Lucinda gradually finds herself drawn back into the world.

Fresh Air was not exactly an in depth discussion, but it was a nice book.

~This post was originally on Thursday Night Book Group Blog from Butler Public Library's website.  From September 2008.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Storyteller's Secret


I am enjoying this book so much.  Amisha marries Deepka, the man she was promised to, they have three boys.  Amisha wants to write her stories in English, but doesn't know how to write English.  She finds a teacher, Stephen who helps her learn English in exchange for Amisha teaching at the school where he works.  They fall in love.  Amisha's story is Jaya's mother's story.  Jaya recently suffered a miscarriage, her third and goes to India to spend time away from her husband, Patrick.  Patrick and Jaya are considering separating.  This is a step in that direction, but Jaya stays with Ravi her grandmother's friend and servant and finds out about her grandmother's life, as well as her mother's.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

I just read Jamie Ford's most recent book, Love and Other Consolation Prizes for my book group and I absolutely adored it.  Bringing together the world's fair along with the immigration of Asians in the early 1900's, this book has history, love and so much more.  Ernest Young, the book's protagonist is a young boy when we meet him.  He has just come to American by boat and has a decent life with Mrs. Irving.  Things change for him when Mrs. Irving brings him to the AYP (Alaskan-Yukon-Pacific) World's Fair to be sold to the highest bidder.  And you thought slavery only happened to African Americans--not true.